April 4, 2020

The ups and downs: How elevator problems get solved on campus

Campus has experienced its fair share of elevator issues this semester. However, facilities is doing its best to keep these problems under control.

Dr. Sherry Mong, an associate professor of sociology and criminology, got stuck briefly in the Convergent Media Center elevator earlier this January on her way to a meeting.

“When I got on the elevator on the second floor and pushed it to go down, the elevator stopped and wouldn’t progress down to the first floor,” Mong said.

Mong said the elevator made a booming noise three times as it struggled to move. She said that she sat down on the floor in fear of the elevator dropping while she was stuck in it.

“It was kind of scary because I could tell that something was wrong … ” Mong said. “There was a loud noise. I tried to keep pressing [the button to] the floor I was going to, but nothing happened.”

Eventually, Mong hit the alarm and pressed the call button for help. Fortunately, after explaining her situation to the operator on hand, the elevator moved by itself to the first floor and Mong was able to exit unassisted.

“Later, I talked to the technician when I got back on campus, and he had a lot of equipment and things [out while] looking at it. He said that some of the power systems were down but they were able to repair it,” Mong said.

Ashley Soltysik, a sophomore middle childhood education and creative writing double major, has also experienced problems with elevators on campus. Earlier this January, Soltysik got stuck in the Ruff Learning Center elevator.

“I hit the button to go up, and at first it took me down and the doors opened to the basement. So, I hit the second [floor button] again and it brought it midway. The door tried to open while it was not on the floor, it was halfway in between. I hit the close button, and then I just stayed there for five minutes,” Soltysik said. “I kept hitting all the buttons, hit the call button, and nothing was working.”

Ashley Soltysik, sophomore, was left stranded in Ruff’s elevator.

Eventually, the elevator went up to the second floor and opened.

“I was really anxious. I already have really bad anxiety, so being stuck in elevators does not help. My first worry was that I was going to be late to class, and since I don’t have cell service in Ruff very often, I was like, ‘I’m not going to be able to call anyone,’” Soltysik said.

Paul Matthews, the director of facilities management, said that many of the issues experienced by the Ruff Learning Center elevator are actually caused by non–use due to its remote location.

“It sometimes takes itself offline,” Matthews said. “We’ve experienced that on numerous occasions, but is there something broken with that elevator? No. Because it does not get used as much as other elevators that we have, sometimes we have to reset it.”

Matthews said he urges his facility workers to press the button on the Ruff Learning Center elevator at least once a day to ensure that it gets exercised periodically.

Paul Matthews is no stranger to the numerous elevator problems on campus.

“The Renner Hall elevator notoriously has trouble. I was over there just a few weeks ago and there was a loud alarm going off and the elevator was stalled on the top floor,” Mong said.

Matthews said that this issue with the Renner elevator has been fixed as of this past week.

“The reason why Renner’s elevator went down initially was because a card short-circuited. Dealing with age of elevators, that’s a normal aspect,” Matthews said. “And in the case with this one because of its age, the card was not readily accessible. It took three days to get the card.”

Matthews said that the cold weather that occurred mid-January also damaged the Renner elevator, which unlike most elevators on campus, is more exposed to the elements as it was an addition to the building.

“What [was] caused by the polar vortex was the card reader system did not work anymore,” Matthews said. “So besides fixing the [card], then we found out the card reader wasn’t working anymore … you couldn’t command the elevator to come down and to go to your specific spaces, etc.”

While it is never fun to get stuck in an elevator, there is a process in place to ensure that passengers will not only get to exit safely, but that any issues had by the elevator are addressed and fixed in a timely manner.

In regards to getting stuck in an elevator, Matthews said, “You always push the red button, or [use] the phone set that’s in there, to contact campus safety to tell them that they’re stuck … And often times campus safety will stay on that phone, too, until someone comes over there.”

“After we free up the person, they exit, we’ll push the [recall] button to see if it goes back and forth, and my operator, my general maintenance tech, will be inside that elevator seeing if it’s working correctly,” Matthews said. “If it’s not, he’ll report to KONE … ”

After facilities is alerted of any elevator situation, they alert KONE, a quality control agency that assists facilities by managing and maintaining all 23 elevators found across Capital’s campuses.

More often than not, the problems had with the elevators are not that difficult to solve.

“A lot of the times it might be we just have to push in the mechanical room the recall button, test it, and all of the sudden it resets,” Matthews said.

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